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A civil union is a marriage-like relationship that is recognized by civil authorities within a jurisdiction. Civil unions are usually authorized only between members of the same sex. The exact level of rights, benefits, duties, and obligations conferred by a civil union depends on the jurisdiction. Civil unions are usually offered as an alternative status to marriage for same-sex couples in jurisdictions that do not offer marriages between same-sex couples. Of the different marriage alternatives, civil unions are the most like marriage. Civil unions usually require most of the same requirements as marriages. Members of a civil union must usually undergo a procedure similar to divorce to end the relationship.
Currently, civil unions are available in Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. Civil unions are not currently recognized by North Carolina law.